Title: Grant Me Just a Little Speech
Characters: The Master, Jo Grant with Third Doctor cameo
Summary: The Master kidnaps Jo intending to hold her for ransom, but gets an earful instead.
A/N: A little tale written for JJPOR and Clocketpatch, who wondered what it would be like for the Master to have to spend time around Jo. This is one idea.
It had only been perhaps three hours since the Master had succeeded in his plot to capture the Doctor’s young companion when he began to have misgivings.
“And what’s more,” Jo Grant continued in that light accusatory tone that she so often employed with him, “I think you’re overestimating your own cleverness. The Doctor is clever too, and he has all of UNIT helping him besides. If you think they’re just going to hand over whatever you want, you’re sadly mistaken. You don’t scare me, you know. You don’t. And you aren’t that impressive. I don’t even care for the way you dress; you could use someone to give you a bit of advice on how to dress nicely instead of always wearing that same dreary black, black, black. I know it can’t be because you’re an alien because I’ve been places and I’ve seen aliens and most of them were better dressed than you are now…”
He quietly ground his teeth. All of his plans to intimidate and impress her were rapidly going out the window. He had given much thought to persuading second thoughts about her chosen loyalties and affiliations, possibly sowing the seeds either of discord or laying the foundation for a future useful tool for himself depending on how much she could be influenced while in his hands.
If he could ever get a word in edgewise.
The fifth hour after her capture she’d worked her way out of four gags, one set of ropes and one set of cuffs. He’d had to pause the car to shoplift better cuffs that she couldn’t get those ridiculously tiny hands out of and added a transistor radio from the same shop to keep her occupied.
“Killing me softly with his song, killing me softly…” she was warbling along with the tinny speakers. “You know, I don’t think I really like this song just now. It’s just the sort of thing you might like, isn’t it? Kind of creepy, when you think about it. I wish they’d play more Beatles, they’re always good, maybe that one about the submarine. Something that’s always nice and cheerful. I like that other one too, the one that goes…um, what is it? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah…”
The Master found his initial misgivings were not subsiding, if anything they were gaining in strength and he found himself wondering how long it would take for the Doctor to send the looked for message acceding to his wishes. It seemed to be taking a very long time.
He mentally ran over his own checklist once more. The Doctor’s predictable reaction complete with veiled insult and rant? Check. The mobilization of UNIT’s pathetic attempts to track him down without exciting public comment? Check. Coded messages directed towards himself on a wide scope, no doubt eventually ramping up to affect television and air traffic controls? Check.
The first pre-set bomb should go off in a timely manner that evening, just a little one at Jo’s flat, carefully planted to reveal a non-subtle message of potential brutality. It would set their nerves on edge nicely.
But what about his own nerves? He patted his pocket and greatly regretted having forgotten to bring his favourite cigars.
As the light faded they pulled up in front of a secluded rental cottage complete with white picket fence and roses. With a firm hand he marched her into the cottage, trying to ignore her yammering on about how pretty the roses were and how she could never get plants to grow for her and how he ought to give up his life of evil and take time to go smell the flowers because the world would be a better place if there was only more love. It was sickening to think of his fellow Time Lord listening to this sort of syrupy drivel all the time, no wonder the Doctor was becoming a sentimental fool.
Cuffing her to a heavy chair, he gagged her again, rubbed his temples and went to fetch something to eat in the tiny kitchen. She was out of the gag within minutes of his leaving the room and thumping about in the chair as she worked on the cuffs, all the while letting him know in no uncertain terms that she’d found the whole affair to be very ungentlemanly and expected better of someone who fancied himself to be practically royalty.
He was sorry to use anesthetic on her, he really was, though she didn’t believe him for a moment. He’d only stashed some in his pocket as a backup for nosy random civilians or inattentive UNIT sentries.
“Well, it’s plain to see you’re no gentleman at all,” she muffled as he infused a napkin and slapped it over her face with more enthusiasm than was seemly. “The Doctor’s right, you’re a, a…coward…yuh a mnhh fwah mgabbwuh….”
The room was blissfully silent.
Estimating how long he had until she woke up, he hurriedly gulped a tin of soup, all of his plans for a leisurely elegant meal by candlelight with enjoyable bantering about the Doctor and subtle gloating over her fate abandoned. Her escape tricks he’d known something of, but her verbal endurance was a factor he’d apparently forgotten to include in his calculations.
In the other room, Jo’s voice mumbled even in her drugged sleep.
He groaned and dropped the tin into the rubbish bin. “Oh, Doctor. Why do you endure this?”
They left very early the following day before the sun was even up and after a long breakfast monologue by Jo about nutrition and studies that showed additives and artificial colours might be bad for you.
“Maybe that’s your problem,” she said, somehow managing to eat and talk at the same time, a talent she had probably picked up from his compatriot.
“And what problem might that be?” he asked, neatly spreading his toast with jam.
“You probably had too many chemicals when you were growing up,” she said decisively. “ and it’s made you all artificial and stiff. You are what you eat, you know. You should eat more granola. And yoghurt. It’s supposed to be really good for you.”
“I see. And what does the Doctor eat that makes him so very wonderful in your eyes?” He asked this with only thinly veiled sarcasm and was surprised when it made her laugh.
“Ham sandwiches,” she giggled. “Oh, you’re funny! Perhaps there’s hope for you after all.”
They had to travel once again with typical Earth inefficiency, bouncing over the roads in a small sedan with tinted windows. UNIT was actively searching for him and he knew the Doctor would be working on some clever way to try to track their whereabouts. In spite of a lack of rest for either of them, there was no alternative; he had to keep moving. He’d planned out a series of excellent hiding places, but had not taken into account how interminable the travel between them would be.
“Have you ever wondered what your life could be like if you did nicer things for people?” Jo was saying, now that she’d worked her first gag of the day out of her mouth. “I mean, you don’t have to go around demanding things and threatening everyone all the time. You start off so nice and polite now but you just go all to pieces when you don’t get your own way and then everything gets blown up and there’s bodies all over the landscape like it’s some kind of Shakespearian tragedy and it’s just a, well, a mess. And it’s not very nice to clean up after either. You’d have a lot more friends if you would just be nicer…”
He analyzed the sound-reflecting properties of the materials that made up the small metal box on wheels that was the car and wondered how it was possible for her incessant voice to rebound off and echo about the way it seemed to, weaseling its way into his mind with inane and endless commentary.
“Speaking of things that are nice, it would be most pleasant if you would be quiet, Miss Grant.”
“Oh, so now you’re just trying to shut me up. That’s not nice at all! I think you just don’t like to hear anyone’s opinion but your own. Or are you saying that because I’m a girl? I’ve read books about people like you who just don’t like any woman to have her say. There was an article in a magazine just last week about it, how there was a movement to bring the laws up to date so they don’t repress women and their rights to speak out when they have something to say.”
“And you obviously have much to say,” he muttered.
“I do!” she agreed emphatically. “I do and I’m not ashamed of it. If I have an opinion about something I think it’s perfectly all right for me to say it. I can speak my mind on any subject you like, just ask me…”
Was it possible that the Doctor had planted some sort of device on her that was stretching or bending Time? He was certain the entire duration she had been talking must have been at the very least a good solid Earth hour, but the clock on the car dash said it had only been ten minutes. At the very least, it was a significant warping of perception. He dredged through his memory for anything that was capable of slowing time in such a small area without it being readily detectable. This pondering helped distract him until Jo began bouncing up and down to emphasize the main points of her monologue, bent as she was on bringing him to some sense of remorse over his actions and his perceived chauvinism, well peppered with reminders of the various ways he had been overly confident in the past.
He stopped the car and gagged her again. A relatively peaceful mile and a half passed as he was occupied with quietly passing a lorry and then navigating a series of curves in the road.
“Mmmf! There!” she said, working her way out of it. “Plah! You could at least get me a fresh gag if you’re going to keep doing that.”
The Master sighed as his travel-mate took a deep breath and launched back in.
“And oh, that was brave now wasn’t it? Gag an innocent girl because you just can’t listen to anything but your own voice carrying on and on about being in charge of everything and being the ‘master’ of everything. Well, I think it’s just ridiculous, no one can be master of everything anyway, you’d go mad just trying to keep track of everything, it would be like those people who try to walk twenty or thirty dogs all at once and they all go running off in different directions and tangle up all the leashes, it’s just…impossible! You know, the Doctor said you were suffering from mega..mego.. what is it? Megalomania once, and I can’t believe I stood up for you, I think he was completely right. It’s just like both of you to…”
The Master lay his head wearily down on the cushions of the ratty sofa that he’d pushed across the only doorway of the pre-prepared escape-proof room he had arranged in this small cottage by the sea, their second nighttime hideaway. He closed his eyes and tried to rest. How did the Doctor put up with this incessant yammering day after day? With the meaningless questions and unfounded opinionating and irritating emotional outbursts? Was he perhaps going deaf?
It was quiet. The sound of the sea nearby was a balm and he soaked it up gratefully. When he arranged this place he had imagined taking her out onto the beach at night and giving a good speech that would equate his own power and majesty with the unstoppable power of the sea, possibly with a little threat of drowning just to keep her in line and to remind her that he was in charge. Now he didn’t want to even let her out of the room and he didn’t know how long her gag would last but he hoped it was a long time.
His brow furrowed. Now what?
Clang! Clang! Clang!
He didn’t lift his head from the cushion. “Miss Grant, whatever are you doing now? ”
“Mmmfffmm! Mmflm!” Clang!
He realized it was the metal dishes that had still been on the tray after her supper, she much be kicking them. He thought he’d been clever to give her unbreakable metal dishes for her meal so she couldn’t saw her bonds apart or create any kind of weapon with any shards, he hadn’t counted on them being used to feed the apparently insatiable need for noise that this human had. There was a prolonged metallic staccato as she hammered her heels on the tray, followed by a pause, then her voice coming clearly as she spit out the gag.
“It’s stuffy in here, there isn’t even a window, what is this, a closet? I mean, who builds a room by the sea with no windows in it? I can’t sleep like this, I always get bad dreams if it’s too stuffy. Isn’t there another room? I’m going to be up all night if I end up in here and who knows what I might dream about, I hope not you. And you better not be doing some kind of crazy hypno thing to give me any bad dreams either, I’ll…I’ll do something just awful to you in my dreams if you show up in there, so keep your mindwaves or whatever you call them to yourself.”
“I assure you, Miss Grant, I have no intention of making any mind contact with you.” He shuddered at the thought of the verbose and disorderly mind that would produce such chattering. It would be like contacting a chipmunk.
“Well, you better not. I know you’re there, just on the other side of the door and I don’t trust you to not try some of that ‘I am the Master’ nonsense on me if I start to fall asleep. In fact, I’ll go ahead and fill my mind up with some nonsense before I go to sleep just in case. Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick. Jack Sprat could eat no fat and wife could eat no lean, so between the two of them they licked the platter clean. Hickory dickory dock…”
The Master got up and paced up and down the floor in the small cottage feeling his civility unraveling as she continued. The promise he had made that she would be handed over unharmed and whole if his demands were met was beginning to look like a foolish, unreachable standard. Surely no one who knew the girl would hold him guilty if he throttled her, just a little bit.
He went to the window and opened it, sticking his head out to let the sound of the waves wash out the high-pitched nursery rhyme recitation behind him. The moon was nearly full. He wished he could launch her to it.
The morning had to be passed somehow. The Master threw down the simplistic crossword puzzle book he’d found, unable to concentrate with the endless nattering on of suggestions for answers coming from his temporary companion.
“Miss Grant, what would you suggest to occupy your mind so the time will pass more pleasantly?”
“You finish that puzzle,” she said. “I’m sure that last word was gnu.”
He sat back and looked at her where she sat cuffed to the neighboring chair. “I am offering you a chance to suggest an activity you will find pleasurable, assuming it can be carried out within these four walls.”
She seemed to honestly consider it. “Is this kind of like where they offer people in jail a cigarette or a magazine?”
He wished he had a cigarette. “I suppose you could say so, though I would hope you realize this is far more comfortable than jail and I am offering a rather well-stocked vacation cottage completely for your diversion.”
She looked down at his discarded crosswords book. “There aren’t any other magazines.”
“No, I don’t believe there are.”
“How about we cook something?”
“Cook something?” He wasn’t sure what he had expected but he didn’t think that had been it.
“Well, I’m kind of hungry and if you’re cooking it along with me then we both know that neither of us secretly poisoned the other one so we can both at least have something nicer to eat than tinned soup.”
She had a point. “What do you suggest?”
“Um, I’m not a very good cook but I can bake things pretty well. If there’s sugar and stuff, how about cake?”
“You beat it too much,” Jo complained. “Why didn’t you listen to me? Now it’ll be all tough. And why is the oven that hot? Don’t you know anything about cooking?”
“Miss Grant, I assure you, if it weren’t for my word to the Doctor that you would come to no harm in my care…”
She waved a frosting-covered spoon in the air, flinging a small pair of white globs onto his dark jacket. “And now you’re threatening again. Listen to yourself! All you ever do is threaten and threaten and threaten and then you bluster your way around, I mean not like regular blustering, I mean like a diplomatic blustering, you’d be more honest about it if you’d bluster like the Doctor blusters. You’re always thinking you’re so suave and diplomatic and you just make people think you’re some kind of…what are you doing?”
“Inserting these useful objects into my ears.”
“Those are marshmallows.”
“Until something more suitable comes to hand, they’ll have to do.”
Preparing to travel to their next hideaway, the Master snapped the cuffs onto Jo’s wrists in what was becoming a familiar routine for the two of them then abruptly swung her around and pinned her across the throat as her hands brought those same cuffs whizzing past his nose.
“Sorry!” Jo said, startled. “I didn’t mean to hit you, I was trying to lick this off.”
“See? There’s frosting on the side of the cuff.” She held her hands further up, displaying the smear of white along the edge of it. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”
He rolled his eyes at her childish ways and let her go. “No, you missed me. But after your recent and rather long lecture to me on the ill effects of unsterilized eating utensils, I’m surprised you would want to lick off an unwashed handcuff.”
“You’re right!” Jo agreed as if this were something of great importance. “What should we do? We mustn’t let any of the frosting go to waste, it’s bad luck; I read a story once about a lady who threw an entire bowl of frosting out and the next day she went completely bald. We can’t risk that happening to you.”
The Master looked down at her and raised a brow. She giggled.
Leading her into the spattered kitchen, he picked up a wooden spoon still liberally covered in frosting and cake crumbles, placing it in her hands. She held it and licked at it like an oversized lolly. “You get the other one!” she directed pompously. “This is a very important event for anyone on Earth, their very first spoon to lick off while making a cake. You just haven’t really been on Earth until you’ve tasted it. It’s practically a rite of passage.”
“Is it, now?” he asked, surprising himself by going along with her silly games just to keep her happy. At this point he would do nearly anything to avoid another long lecture and he had to admit the battered spoon was good, if messy.
“Yes,” she continued with mock solemnity, “You are now an honourary Earthling. All you need is a set of marbles and some roller skates.”
“I’m honoured, Miss Grant.”
She gave hers a big lick and then suddenly smiled over at him with that amazingly sunny smile, something he’d only seen her give to the Doctor. “You have some on your nose. You know, you’re really not so bad are you? I mean, anytime you aren’t killing people and stuff you can be pretty nice. It’s too bad we can’t get to know one another a little better, really.”
He stopped licking his spoon and pursed his lips at this, remembering belatedly his own original intent to draw her into being a double agent. “I’m sure that could be arranged,” he said smoothly.
She shook her head. “Oh, the Doctor wouldn’t like it. We’d have to be pretty sneaky, and then what would he think if we were caught? It would be much too hard. And there’s the Brigadier too, he’d probably suspect something. I guess we’ll just have to keep on being enemies after this is over with, won’t we, unless you decide to say you’re sorry and be nice after this.”
“Somehow I can’t quite see that happening.”
“But are you sorry? That you kidnapped me like this?”
“Yes,” he said with feeling. He was very, very sorry, though not for the reasons she was looking for.
“That’s so pleasant to hear,” a different voice said. “And far too rare an admission from the likes of you.”
The Master about choked on his frosting as he spun around to find the Doctor behind him, leaning comfortably in the kitchen doorway.
He coughed, swiped the frosting from his nose and drew his shoulders back with dignity, breathing heavily through his nose and glaring at his adversary who simply opened his arms to the girl who leaped forward to fill them.
“Jo, are you all right?”
“Yes. About time you got here, I was going positively hoarse!” She rubbed at her throat.
“Good girl. Sorry we took so long, lost you when you fell asleep, but you kept it up better than any of us thought you could. Well done.”
“Kept it up?” The Master said with a sudden sinking feeling.
“Oh yes,” the Doctor replied airily, releasing Jo into the hands of Sergeant Benton who had come in behind him. “Get those cuffs off of her will you?” he said then turned back. “Didn’t you realize we were tracking you through her necklace?”
“Her necklace? ”
“A little bauble I’d put together for her so she wouldn’t have to shout to get my attention if I was somewhere off in the TARDIS.” He smiled, obviously pleased with the little gadget. “A bit like a microphone, but it only comes to me on a fractional nanowave,” he explained, happy to share it with someone else who would understand how ingenious it had been. He tapped what appeared to be a little decorative tie-tack on his lapel. “So it’s only readable by this. It’s a good thing she was wearing it when you happened by, wasn’t it?”
“Well, technically only the pendant. The yellow daisy-shaped one. Well, really only the center of the pendant. Jo chose the design, naturally.”
“Do you have any idea how many hours of inane chatter I’ve had to endure?” the Master grated out.
“Actually, I think I do. I had to hear it too, you know, at least enough to be sure we were still on the right track.” He smiled in remembrance. “I expect I found certain portions of it more enjoyable than you did. Jo is so observant.”
The Master chose to ignore that. “And now?”
The Doctor grinned. “Any of that cake left?”